Timkat on the Plateaus

This Brilliant Timkat small group tour combines Ethiopia's most unique experiences into a perfectly paced trip. A truly unique adventure, the Brilliant Timkat tour includes the highlights of the North, and you experience the wonderful Timket Festival from the sweeping plateas of rural Ethiopia during a community trek.

16 Days

$3,295

Timkat on the Plateaus - 16 - $3,295

Itinerary Map

Start from Addis Ababa and end at Addis Ababa

Landmarks visited on Timkat on the Plateaus

Itinerary

Day 1: Addis Ababa

Upon arrival at Bole International Airport, Addis, clear Immigration, collect your luggage and exit the airport to meet your driver for the transfer to your hotel. If time allows see some of the sites in Addis. Visit Selasie Church, National Museum and Ethnographic museum. Go up into the Entoto Mountains to see Addis from 3,000 m. Spend the night in the city.

Overnight: Capital Hotel


Day 2: Community Trekking in Wollo

After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport for the 08:00 AM flight to Lalibela. Upon landing and collecting your luggage, leave the airport to meet your driver for the 2 hr drive to the trailhead at Istayish where you will begin your first community trek.  The first walk to Aina Amba is a short one that will take just over an hour. Spend a relaxing afternoon exploring the local area with your guides, enjoying the first day of the Timkat celebration. Spend the night in a community guesthouse.

Overnight: Community Guesthouse


Day 3: Community Trekking in Wollo

Celebrate Timket at Aina Amba. In the morning the villagers gather; waters are sprinkled on the participants, who are then invited to renew their baptismal vows by immersing themselves in the water. The festivities don’t end there. The remainder of the day is spent in celebration, culminating in a colorful procession during which the tabots are escorted back to Aina Amba Giorgis churches. The many-hued robes and umbrellas of the clergy illuminate the scene with unforgettable colours, which move about as the participants perform joyous dances and songs; children run about shouting and playing with sticks and games. 

Overnight: Community Guesthouse


Day 4: Community Trekking in Wollo

After a good breakfast, say goodbye to the village and take to the trail for a 3 hour walk to the lunch stop at Waro Mikael. The trail is mostly flat, following the escarpment edge to the lunch stop. In the afternoon, continue for  3-4 hour walk, mostly on the flat along the plateau to reach the village at Boya Mikael. Spend the Timket celebration with Boya community. 

Overnight: Community Guesthouse


Day 5: Lalibela

This morning, complete the community trek walking from Boya to the trailhead to meet your driver. for the 2 hr drive to Lalibela town. There you will check into your hotel and drop off your luggage before visiting the first cluster of rock-hewn churches. Led by a specialised local guide, start with Medhan Alem & Mariam, maybe the side chapels of Meskal and Danagil, Mikael and Golgota (where K.Lalibela is buried - men only). If time allows, continue to the spectacular, stand alone, Giyorgis.

Overnight: Tukul Village Hotel


Day 6: Lalibela

Visit the second cluster of churches with your guide.See Rufael & Gabriel,  pass through tunnels and pop up at Merkorios - (don't miss the gorgeous canvas paining of Christ) and Bethlehem where bread for mass was baked. Pop out of a tunnel to see Emmanuel - a lovely & different design. Then explore round the back and come to Abba Libanos. Afterwards,  emerge on top on a hill called Debre Zeit and enjoy the view back across the landscape. Celebrate your visit at the end of the day with a visit to the unique Ben Abeba Restaurant. Enjoy the sunset and the fusion of Scotland and Ethiopia!

Overnight: Tukul Village Hotel


Day 7: Gondar

Wake up early for a 90 min drive to BIlbala Cherkos for the saint day celebration. Also, see Yemrehae Christos, one of the earliest churches in the area. Then drive back to Lalibela airport for a check in at 12; 15. for the 13:15 flight to Gondar. Upon landing, collect your luggage and exit the airport to meet your driver for the short transfer to your hilltop hotel. Check in, drop off your luggage and then head off with your local guide to visit Debre Berhan Selassie Church. This is the oldest surviving church in Gondar. Dating from the end of the 17th century, it survived the destruction of the Mahadists in 1888. The painted interior is impressive. The compound is peaceful and shows the older foundations of the circular church that predated the current rectangular building. It is a must see in Gondar. 

Overnight: Goha Hotel


Day 8: Gondar

Enjoy a full day tour of historic Gondar. This includes the castle compound and baths and the  Kusquam ruins. The castle compound, dates from the 17th and 18th centuries. It was a fortress-city and prime residence of the Emperor Fasilidas and his successors. Surrounded by a 900-m- long wall, the compound contains palaces, churches, monasteries and  unique public and  private buildings. The ceremonial bath complex centres on  a rectangular pool in which stands a 3 story stone building. Roots of trees grow through the walls -the place is peaceful & beautiful. 

Overnight: Goha Hotel


Day 9: Simien Mountains National Park

After a good breakfast, drive 2.5 hours north to the town of Debark, where you will collect a local guide and ranger before continuing onto the spectaculalrly beautiful Simien Mountains beyond. In this, the most westerly part of  the Simien National Park, enjoy an easy walk from Buyit Ras to Sankober. There are  great views from the escarpment edge and you are likely to encounter large troupes of Geladas monkeys and spot raptors soaring on the thermals. Spend the night in the wonderful Limalimo Lodge.

Overnight: Limalimo Lodge


Day 10: Simien Mountains National Park

Spend the full day exploring the national park (with a picnic lunch).  The views are contiually stunning. Aim for Chennek where you have the best chance of seeing the indigenous Walia ibex. Travel by vehicle and on foot. Return to Limalimo for a second night's stay.

Overnight: Limalimo Lodge


Day 11: Axum

Leaving the mountains, you will spend the day driving to historic Axum, crossing the Tekeze river, and along the Tigrayan plateau. Stop to enjoy a picnic lunch and to stretch your legs. Arrive into Axum by late afternoon for a two night stay.

Overnight: Yared Zema Hotel


Day 12: Axum

Axum is where the story of Ethiopia arguably begins and this full day exploration will introduce you to its fascinating story.  Visit the Stelae Field, the Archaeological Museum, Queen of Sheba’s Bath, Ezana Stone, tombs of Kings Kaleb  and Gebre Meskel plus Dungur (Queen of Sheba’s) Palace. In the evening, get a taste of Ethiopian music and night life at one of the good locla restaurants.

Overnight: Yared Zema Hotel


Day 13: Community Trekking in Tigray

This morning you take to the hills again with a return to the rural communities. After breakfast, drive 2 hours to the trailhead at Rahya. There you will have an afternoon Half Day Trek from Rahya to Erar Rahya. Erar is a 90 min ridge walk, and below is Mariam Kiat Church and lush village well worth a visit. The round trip takes about 3-4 hours. The guest house, where you will spend the night, is a 90 minute walk further south along the same escarpment ridge from Rahya. 

Overnight: Community Guesthouse


Day 14: Community Trekking inTigray

Today the trek continues moving from Erar to Shimbrety , a 4 hr walk. Explore the rock tunnel and see the Mariam Buzzuhan church on the way. Take lunch at Shimbrety guesthouse with magnificent views of the Agame Mountains. Spend the afternoon exploring around the guesthouse. See the village (just a few clustered farmhouses) and drop into peoples houses. Enjoy dinner and a night's stay at Shimbrety.

Overnight: Community Guesthouse


Day 15: Tigray

After breakfast, a short, 2 hour walk gets you to Idega, the end of the trail. Meet the driver for an afternoon visiting some of the Tigrayan rock churches on the way to your accommodation, Gheralta Lodge.

Many of the Tigraian rock churches lie along the main road between Adigrat and Mekele or can be visited from it. Four main clusters are covered here, of which the churches that lie along the main road between Freweyni (formerly called Sinkata) and Wukro are the most accessible to those without private transport or with limited time. The pick of these churches is undoubtedly Adi Kasho Medhane Alem, part of the highly accessible Teka Tesfai cluster 10km south of Freweyni/Sinkata.

A second rather loose cluster consists of Wukro Chirkos – the most accessible of all the Tigraian churches, as it lies 500m from the main road in the town of Wukro – and the magnificent Abreha we Atsbeha Church along the Hawzien road.

The most extensive cluster is found in the Gheralta region, which lies to the south of Hawzien and includes some of the most stunningly situated churches anywhere in Ethiopia. Gheralta can easily be explored out of Hawzien with a vehicle or from Gheralta Lodge, arguably one of the finest boutique resorts in the country. It could also be explored over a few days of hiking, bearing in mind that the region’s finest churches are reached by long, steep walks that require a fair level of fitness. A fourth and more dispersed cluster lies in the Atsbi area, to the east of Wukro. 

Overnight: Gheralta Lodge


Day 16: Tigray

Enjoy a final relaxing morning at Gheralta lodge. You will then be driven to Mekele, the capital of Tigray. On the way, there is time to see a church or two, maybe Abreha Wa Aseba and one of Atsebi cluster.  Check into the airport at 17:00 for the 18:00 flight to Addis and your flight home.

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Pricing is based on a complete group of 6 travellers. 

Start date Price (pp)
January 2020
18-Jan-2020 $2,981 Limited Availability

* Note: Prices are per person. Paid in USD ($) - figure above is based on today's exchange rate. Actual cost $3,295

Includes

  • Domestic flights.
  • Airport transfers and road transport by private minibus.
  • Accommodation based on two people sharing one room.
  • Meal plan bed and breakfast. Except at Limalimo and on the community treks where it is Full Board.
  • Fees for entrances, local guides and compulsory scouts for activities mentioned in the itinerary.
  • All government taxes for the services included in the tour price.

Excludes

  • International flights and visa fees.
  • Lunches and dinners, unless stated as included above.
  • Activities not mentioned or stated as optional in the itinerary.
  • Fees for photos and video.
  • Other personal expenses, souvenirs, tips and gratuities, etc.

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